The Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper with St. Peter and St. Paul

Date: mid-16th century

Geography: Made in Mexico

Culture: Mexican

Medium: Feathers and colored paper on wood, gilt wood frame

Dimensions: Wings 19 x 6-1/4 in. (48.3 x 15.9 cm)
Center 19 x 12-1/2 in. (48.3 x 31.8 cm)

Classification: Natural Substances

Credit Line: Gift of Coudert Brothers, 1888

Accession Number: 88.3.1


This feather mosaic triptych from 16th-century Mexico is one of just three that survive. It was created by indigenous featherworkers who adapted the pre-Hispanic technique to Christian use. An altar card, it pictures the Last Supper as the first Mass. The Latin text beneath the image begins: “For this is my body. For this is the chalice of my blood.”
Feather mosaics were highly prized by Europeans for their exotic origin and appearance. The present work, which can be traced to a Florentine collection, was among the “objects of curious pictorial art” given to the Museum in 1888 by a Manhattan law firm.